In Oregon, fetal deaths occur infrequently compared to the number of live births each year. Since fetal death is relatively rare and requires different information than reporting a birth, procedures can be confusing and difficult to remember. This web page provides the tools you need to comply with law and ensure the accurate reporting of the event.
For detailed instructions on reporting fetal death, see our 20 minute online guide on Completing Fetal Death Reports.
On this page:
Instructions & Worksheets
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a fetal death?
Determining whether a delivery is a fetal death or a live birth is a medical determination made by the birth attendant based on the legal definitions. The legal definition in Oregon law (ORS 432.005) states that “fetal death” means death prior to the complete expulsion or extraction from its mother of a product of human conception, irrespective of the duration of pregnancy. The death is indicated by the fact that after such expulsion or extraction the fetus does not breathe or show any other evidence of life such as beating of the heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord or definite movement of the voluntary muscles.
What documentation is needed before releasing the remains?
Before the remains are removed from the hospital campus for disposition, hospital staff must complete a disposition permit and give it to the individual who takes the remains from the facility (including the funeral director or parents). The disposition permit is always required regardless of whether a fetal death report is filed if the remains are removed from the hospital.
The disposition permit gives permission to transport the remains to the location of burial or cremation. A cemetery or crematory cannot perform final disposition without the form. It is available to hospital staff on the OVERS website. See the following picture for its location. Click to enlarge.
When must a fetal death be reported?
Use the 350/20 rule Many early events of fetal death need not be reported, but according to Oregon law, it is mandatory to report a fetal death if the weight of the fetus is greater than 350 grams. If the delivery weight of the fetus is unknown, a fetal death report must be filed if the gestation period is 20 weeks or greater.
Although it is not mandatory to report a fetal death in instances where the delivery weight is less than 350 grams or, if the weight is unknown, the gestation period is less than 20 weeks, you may file a fetal death report when the fetus does not meet the mandatory reporting criteria.
The Fetal Death Reporting Quick Reference Guide provides a decision tree to help you determine whether to report a fetal death.
Who reports the fetal death?
Hospital facility staff report fetal deaths that occurs in a hospital facility. Hospital staff can only file a fetal death report for events that occur on the hospital premises or en route to the hospital.
If the delivery occurred anywhere other than a licensed facility, the fetal death report must be completed by either a physician who attended the delivery or the Medical Examiner if the delivery was not attended by a licensed physician. If the family has brought the fetus to your facility, the facility should contact the Medical Examiner. If the family is contacting your facility by telephone, refer them to the county Medical Examiner.
How are fetal deaths reported?
Hospitals and all persons reporting a fetal death are required to report electronically using the Oregon Vital Events Registration System (OVERS).
To collect the medical and personal information needed for the report, use the facility and parent worksheets linked above.